Calcium ionophore, ionomycin inhibits growth of human bladder cancer cells both in vitro and in vivo with alteration of Bcl-2 and Bax expression levels

J Urol. 1999 Sep;162(3 Pt 1):916-21. doi: 10.1097/00005392-199909010-00090.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to characterize the antiproliferative effects of the calcium ionophore, ionomycin on the human bladder cancer cell line HT1376 both in vitro and in vivo.

Materials and methods: The in vitro growth rate of HT1376 after treatment with ionomycin was measured by using the MTT assay. The apoptotic features in HT1376 after ionomycin treatment were evaluated by flow cytometric analysis and DNA degradation assay. Bcl-2 and Bax expression levels in HT1376 after ionomycin treatment were examined by Northern and Western blot analyses. The effects of intratumoral injection of ionomycin on the growth of subcutaneous HT1376 tumors established in athymic nude mice were then tested. The efficacy of combined treatment with ionomycin and cisplatin against HT1376 growth was also examined.

Results: The in vitro growth rate of HT1376 was suppressed by ionomycin in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and characteristic apoptotic DNA degradation was observed in HT1376. Ionomycin treatment caused a marked decrease in the ratios of Bcl-2 to Bax mRNA and protein in HT1376 cells. Intratumoral injection of ionomycin into subcutaneous HT1376 tumors reduced the tumorigenicity in nude mice. Furthermore, these in vivo growth-inhibitory effects of ionomycin were significantly enhanced by pretreatment with cisplatin.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that ionomycin-based therapy could be used as a novel therapeutic strategy for advanced bladder cancer through the effective induction of apoptosis by decreasing the ratio of Bcl-2 to Bax.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cisplatin / pharmacology
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Drug Synergism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Ionomycin / pharmacology*
  • Ionophores / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms / pathology*
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • BAX protein, human
  • Bax protein, mouse
  • Ionophores
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • bcl-2-Associated X Protein
  • Ionomycin
  • Cisplatin